Run Horsey Run
At first glance, the wheel looks fairly impressive. The Ferrari emblem placed in the middle of a silver and black wheel setup adds to that "can o' whoop ass" look. Beyond just looks, the wheel has many buttons and levers to play with. The developers placed every type of button available, to my knowledge, on the wheel. For a quick run through there are: 2 buttons, 1 directional pad, one "4-in-1" button pad, a stick shifter, and lastly 2 levers. Needless to say, you will not be shortchanged on functionality.
The wheel clamps on tight
On the wheel base there is a pretty handy stick shifter. Flipping between gears with this is about as easy as force-feeding yourself a slice of pie; the reassuring click and good positioning make it all the easier. It doesn't stop here with the shifting options. Under the wheel are two levers that can function as another two buttons; these were made to mimic the F-1 gearshift levers. I tried these as an alternative means for shifting gears; they turned out pretty decent. The levers don't have as nice a movement as the stick, rather they seem to have a squishy movement to them. One of the levers had a nice click to it if pushed far enough. The other lever had seemingly lost that "click" though. I preferred using the stick because I am more accustomed to it, and it was more responsive than the levers.
Hands provided for size reference
On the wheel face are four separate buttons; two of the buttons are standard fare and can be mapped to a variety of uses such as a horn or E-brake. The top two buttons are a little more exotic, like the horsey on the wheel. There is a "4-in-1 button", which works like a normal directional pad with 4 mappable button positions. After looking at the extra buttons required for Need For Speed High Stakes, I realized why they included this little feature. The last button is even more fancy - an 8-way directional pad. I still haven't found a use for this in a racing game, but hey, who doesn't like extra cool features? All the buttons have a nice feel to them, and are in good positions to be pressed by your thumbs. The wheel itself has a nice rubbery feel to it. No matter how sweaty your palms are this stuff will not let them slip.
Lots of buttons and levers
How's the Force Feedback?
The force feedback on this product works great. One thing that I have noticed is that the intensity of the feedback changes greatly with different games. Need for Speed High Stakes had some of the oddest reactions to seemingly mundane driving. I really appreciated how NFS simulated damaged wheels by creating an odd wobbly effect. The feedback in Viper racing helped a great deal in negotiating turns and recovering from my habitual over steer. Midtown Madness also provided a relatively good base to test from. The feel of the game was greatly enhanced by the wheels' responsiveness. Steering with the wheel, and using any of its many buttons did not prove to be a problem in any way in all the games I tested it on.
On games like NFS High Stakes, the response is quite great, so great as to make it almost unplayable. While playing NFS, the muscles in the region of my thumb got pretty tired and sore. And no, I am not hideously out of shape that I can't turn a toy steering wheel. After some more testing, I realized that the constant force I was applying to keep control was causing this. Some people complain that force feedback devices lack the power to give a good experience to the user. That's definitely not a problem with this wheel; there is ample power in this setup to make you very sore, very quickly. I had to lower the intensity of the feedback in order to keep driving without inflicting damage to myself. If you love the response, the wheel is perfect. When the feedback levels of the wheel are reduced, it acts perfectly to produce to great (and painless) turns. The wheel and the feedback are top notch for whatever type of driving you want to do. Whether it is for the whole experience or for performance aspect the wheel lives up to that emblazoned horse.